My Hate/Hate Relationship with MLB Extra Innings

I am an unabashed fan of the San Francisco Giants. Up until 2010 that meant a lifelong fandom of a great deal of fun as well as a fair share of frustration. Since 2010 and the subsequent THREE World Championships the fun quotient has escalated dramatically while the frustration level has been mostly relegated to issues off the field.

worldchampspatches

My name is Keith and I am a west coast sports fan living in New Jersey.

gold hat

That, in and of itself, presents certain challenges including, but not limited to, ESPN east coast bias (how many Yankees or Red Sox games MUST we all endure?) and time zone realities. That means most home contests and division games featuring my favorite team don’t start until after 10 PM. Without disclosing my exact age I’ll just say that is, on most nights, about 30 minutes past my bedtime! But thanks to the good folks at Major League Baseball I had hope in the form of a cable sports package called MLB Extra Innings, or so I thought. Even though I make my home thousands of miles and three time zones away from the best ball yard in baseball (AT&T Park) I could watch every inning of every game featuring my hometown team. Of course this privilege would come at a price but I was more than willing to pay it. If they would have asked I would have paid more. Then, not now. Last night is the prime example of why that is true.

The SF Giants are currently in the middle of a battle for a playoff spot. Thanks in great part to self inflicted bullpen wounds they have gone from being baseball’s best at the All-Star break to 4 games behind the damn Dodgers in the NL West. They do currently hold the first Wild Card spot but that lead is tenuous thanks to their inability to beat the San Diego Padres (even when they take a four run lead into the ninth inning!). The Giants can still win the division with six upcoming games against LA but they have to prove they can beat the Padres and will have four chances to do that in San Diego. The team is also locked in a fight with the NY Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals for the chance to play at least 1 post-season game. So it was with great anticipation, nervousness and anxiety that I watched the clock tick toward 10:15 PM (game time) last night as the Cardinals were in San Francisco to take on Johnny Cueto and the good guys. THIS is the reason I pay hundreds (thousands? millions?) of dollars for MLB EXTRA INNINGS!

Earlier I had checked the screen to find out that the Giants/Cardinals would be featured at 10:15 on MLB Extra Innings (a service for which I pay hundreds of dollars) Channel 2 (that’s 772 on my Comcast cable system). Yay. Of course I looked toward the top of the screen to find out which “early” game would proceed the men in orange and black. Much to my dismay I saw that that game would be the tilt between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. Boo! That’s a great big boo for several reasons most notably because it’s a game featuring two teams that play in a league that doesn’t observe the real rules of baseball. Because of that, those games almost always last longer than games that feature real rule abiding National League teams. It’s also a game that features the Yankees and in Western New Jersey that means two words: BLACK OUT. Where I live a NY Yankees game on MLB Extra Innings (a premium service that costs hundreds of dollars) means that you CAN’T WATCH. Not only can you NOT watch but you get a frozen screen and can’t even change the channel for a couple of seconds. Not only do you get a frozen screen and can’t change the channel for a couple of seconds it takes several MINUTES (sometimes a full inning) to switch from that game to the game that was scheduled to be on at 10:15.

 bobbleheads

So there I was finishing my evening glass of Pangloss Tenacity (it’s a red blend and it’s delicious) watching the NFL and waiting for the Giants/Cardinals. A quick check of my phone showed the Yankees going to the bottom of the ninth with a fairly comfortable lead over the Red Sox. The Giants/Cardinals were in “warm up”. This could work out I thought/hoped/half expected. Nope. The Red Sox mounted a rally and eventually won the game on a “walk off” three run home run. Well past the official start time for Giants/Cards.

TRAIN OF THOUGHT DEVIATION ALERT

Why is what Hanley Ramirez did last night breathlessly referred to as a “walk off” whatever? Don’t both teams technically “walk off” the field after EVERY game regardless of the score or how it occurred?

BACK TO THE ORIGINAL POST

So here is what happened and why I hate, HATE, HATE MLB Extra Innings, a service that costs me hundreds of dollars. Giants/Cardinals was supposed to be on Game Channel 2 at 10:15 PM but Yankees/Red Sox was still on at that time. Okay I get it, they aren’t going to leave one game before it’s over to get to the start of another one. Especially if that game features those two teams. There were other games on the some of the MLB Extra Innings ( a hundreds-of-dollars pay service, orbit but not all. There are actually 12 MLB Extra Innings channels (for which I pay hundreds of dollars) and it is rare when the entire dozen has a game being broadcast. Such was the case last night. At 10:15 when Giants/Cardinals was supposed to be on TV but wasn’t because Yankees/Red Sox was still on. THREE of the channels were airing an exercise infomercial while four others were proudly airing  THAT DAY’S schedule! Was it too much to ask that the pimply-faced high school dropout manning the switch at MLB Extra Innings (my premium pay channel) HQ switch the Giants/Cardinals to one of those channels? Apparently it was. Despite the fact that the game I wanted to watch featured the two best National League teams in recent history and there were plenty of channels available, NO Giants/Cardinals anywhere on the service for which I’m paying hundreds of dollars that PROMISED me EVERY INNING OF EVERY GAME FROM MY FAVORITE TEAM. Bastards.

So on my phone I “saw” Buster Posey at the plate. “In Play No Out (s)” the screen informed me. Great, I thought, Buster got a two-out single after Johnny Cueto handled the Cardinals in the top of the first (by the way they were still crunching abs on three MLB Extra Innings channels, for which I pay hundreds of dollars, and displaying the schedule of four others). It was 10:20. Hunter Pence up next… “In Play Run (s)” screamed my phone app (okay it didn’t actually scream, I did). Hunter Pence hit a two run home run and just like that the Giants had a 2 run lead. Thanks to MLB Extra Innings (the service that costs me hundreds of dollars) I didn’t get to see it. I also didn’t get to see Cueto shut down the Cardinals in the second or give up single runs in the third and fourth. 2-2 tie and the clock had just ticked past 11:00 PM. Then Hanley Ramirez hit his 3-run blast. Yankees Lose… TTTTTHHHHHEEEE Yankees Lose. I checked the clock on my TV screen and squinted to see what I thought was 11:02PM. Giants coming up in the bottom of the fourth, game tied 2-2.

11:03 no game

11:04 no game

11:05 no game (Giants in get men on base)

11:06 no game

11:07 no game (Giants score two to take a 4-2 lead)

11:08 no game

11:09 FINALLY THE PIMPLY-FACED KID MAKES THE SWITCH!

So let’s recap…MLB Extra Innings, the pay cable service for which I pay hundreds of dollars, failed to deliver on its promise. It couldn’t bother to figure out a way to let me watch a game featuring my favorite team for 54 FREAKIN MINUTES in the middle of a playoff race against a team that is also in the playoff hunt. Thanks for nothing.

Did I mention MLB Extra Innings costs hundreds of dollars

 

About Keith Hirshland

My name is Keith Hirshland and I am a four decades television veteran who has spent time both in front of and behind the camera. During nearly forty years in broadcasting my path has crossed in front of, behind and alongside some of the best in the business... And some of the worst. Many of those people I count as friends while others wouldn't make the effort to spit on me if I was on fire. This television life started early watching my Mom and Dad found, fund and run a local affiliate TV station in Reno, Nevada. As a teenager approaching adulthood I worked for them, first as an on-air sports reporter/anchor and later as a director and producer. Jobs in the industry took me across the country and then to many places around the world. Sports is my passion and putting it on TV has been my business. Production credits include auto racing, baseball, basketball, bowling, college football, field hockey, soccer, volleyball and water polo but the majority of my time "in the chair" since 1990 has been invested in the game of golf with both ESPN and The Golf. Channel ( I was one of the first forty people hired by TGC in 1994 ). I am a fan and I watch TV sports as a fan but I also have hundreds of thousands of hours watching from inside a production truck. I think that makes me qualified to comment, my hope is you agree. I have written two books, Cover Me Boys, I'm Going In (Tales of the Tube from a Broadcast Brat), a memoir that is a tribute to my parents, the hard working, creative people who started ESPN2 and The Golf Channel and a look back at my life in television. My second book is a novel, Big Flies, and is a mystery that tells the story of a father and a son with four of the world's most notorious unsolved robberies as a backdrop. I look forward to sharing new thoughts about golf, golf television, sports in general and the broadcast industry with you. The views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They are not connected to nor endorsed by any other person, association, company or organization.
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